Organized Crime

Gangster Era Reborn: Unearthed Crime Scenes from New York’s Prohibition Underworld

Nearly 100 years later, there's still new information to discover.
Joseph Pinzolo in his younger days as a Black Hand extortionist

TYING UP LOOSE ENDS: THE MURDER OF JOSEPH PINZOLO (SEPTEMBER 5, 1930)

There were not many mourners when Joseph Pinzolo was murdered in his office a mere few weeks after Giuseppe Morello. Pinzolo had been appointed by Masseria to lead the family of Gaetano Reina, who had been murdered in February. Many in Reina’s family suspected Masseria’s involvement in their boss’s slaying and resented him picking the selection of Masseria loyalist to lead them. Furthermore, there were rumblings that Pinzolo himself was the triggerman in Reina’s death.

Perhaps emboldened by Masseria losing Morello, the Reina crew (lead by underboss Tommy Gagliano and Tommy Lucchese) went about planning Pinzolo’s demise.

I got the break of my life. I caught him alone in the office.

Girolamo “Bobby Doyle” Santuccio

Pinzolo’s office was located in room #1007 of California Dry Fruits at 1457 Broadway in Manhattan. Santuccio, a seasoned gunman with the Reina crew, pumped several bullets into Pinzolo and left him face down by his desk.

Joe Valachi later revealed in government testimony that the Reina faction later feigned innocence to Masseria during a sit down while secretly aligning with Maranzano.

The murder of Joseph Pinzolo from the view of his suspected killer Girolamo “Bobby Doyle” Santuccio

Photo of body and scene where Joseph Penzolo was found dead, 13100a: Courtesy of the New York Municipal Archives
Joseph Penzolo up-close

Photo of body and scene where Joseph Penzolo was found dead, 13100b: Courtesy of the New York Municipal Archives
Outside view of Pinzolo’s office, allegedly secured four months before the murder by Tommy Lucchese.

Photo of body and scene where Joseph Penzolo was found dead, 13100c: Courtesy of the New York Municipal Archives

SOURCES

The Valachi Papers, Peter Maas

The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia, 1891-1931, David Critchley

27 comments

  1. Are there anymore gangsters pictures from the archives? They were incredible. The Vincent Coll pictures were insane. I’d love to see some of Maseria and Marrazano. That would be incredible. Please let everyone know if there’s anymore being released. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for checking it out, Jonathan! So Masseria and Maranzano photos remain big targets for me. My take is they have to be somewhere, just a matter of if the Archives have it or the NYPD themselves. Believe it or not, even all these decades later there’s still records the NYPD haven’t transferred over to the Archives. There’s definitely more gangster photos. The tricky thing with the searches is that a lot of times the names are completely misspelled due the officers who arrived on scene (you’ll notice this on some of the pictures as that’s how they’re listed in the Archives records). So, it’s really a grind to go through the records but so worth it when you find gems like these. Rest assured, once the pandemic slows down and the Archives are open to the public, I’ll be right back in there searching.

      1. Couldn’t email you directly but try this – At the bottom of the first page on the site, you should should see a list of numbers going horizontally across the page in little boxes. Each of these represents a different page with the pictures. If you’re on a mobile device, it’ll be right before title of the next article.

    1. Appreciate the support James and I absolutely loved your Youtube video! You put a big smile on my face and I’ll proudly carry that new favorite person title haha Once the pandemic slows down and the Archives reopen, I plan to get right back in there digging for more gems.

  2. Amazing pictures. Nice research Ismael. I enjoyed it including the stories that go with it. I hope you find more (Greetings from the Netherlands)

  3. Wow, those pics are amazingly clear and smooth for their age!

    Thats some great research and digging, Ismael… Coincidentally Im currently reading ‘First Family’ which centres on The Morello family so I skipped that section to avoid too many spoilers! haha

    1. That’s awesome brother, I really enjoyed that book and it gave me confidence to do my own research. Yes, definitely avoid that Morello section until you finish the book haha Let me know what you think, I’d love a TV series on the Morellos.

      1. Yeah its a great book man… i just got to the part (demise) of the Camorra and the Navy Street Gang etc amazing how the Camorra could have give the Mafia a real run for their money and essentially changed organised crime in the US…

        Ahh, I never thought about a Morellos TV series, that would be insaaaane! That definitely needs the full HBO/Showtime, big budget, period costumes and set treatment!

  4. I’m also very interested in the Amberg and Shapiro brothers. Have you come across any new pics or info about them?

    1. Glad to hear it on your Amberg and Shapiro interest! I did find leads on some potential pictures from the Amberg 1926 Tombs prison breakout and potentially some of Meyer Shapiro’s murder, but alas I’ll have to wait until the Archives open back up to follow-up.

  5. Ismael,

    These are truly incredible. The amount of work, and research that went into this is deserves recognition. I truly appreciate it, as the 1920s have always been fascinating to me so it was no problem for me to read every word and study every photo.

    I was wondering if you would have access to more? Arnold Rothstein, and Legs Diamond to name a few, would be interesting crime scenes. Both went out in gangland style hits.

    Anyways,

    Thank you

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Nucky! There is still plenty to go through regarding more potential findings. Before the pandemic shut everything down, I do remember seeing notes that indicate crime photos may exist of the hotel room where Rothstein was shot. Since he was rushed to the hospital and lingered a few days, anything that’s found would likely just be of the room and maybe the murder weapon that was tossed onto the street. Once we’re allowed back on site, I’ll be sure to look into what Rothstein photos have survived . The NYC records I used didn’t include Legs Diamond’s murder since it happened in Albany. If they still exist, they’d likely be at the New York State Archives which I haven’t had the pleasure of researching yet (in due time). I really appreciate your encouraging words and thanks again for reading.

  6. Hi, these are great! Do you happen to have or come across photos or information on Saverio “Sam” Pollaccia? He is of Brooklyn, by way of Sicily, and was connected with Masseria, Anastasia, Yale, Luciano, etc. Any information will be greatly appreciated.
    Regards,
    Nick

    1. Thanks for reading, Nick! In my research, the only thing I’ve seen on Pollaccia was a document referencing pictures still existing of his fingerprints from a 1932 arrest. It appears in all aspects he still remains a shadowy figure, but I’ll keep an eye out on my next Archives visit.

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